That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
- Emily Dickinson
On February 25th 2011, we took Oliver to the ER for what we thought were health issues related to constipation. After a bevy of tests, the doctors found a sacrococcygeal teratoma (which is a type of "germ cell tumor") growing from his tailbone into his abdominal cavity. The tumor was impacting his bladder, causing his belly distention and lots of discomfort. He was immediately transferred to the Pediatric Oncology unit at UNC's Children's Hospital. A few days later, Oliver underwent biopsy surgery to confirm the type of tumor and its stage of development, which the doctors determined was "stage 3". Oliver's tumor was malignant but had not metastasized.
Oliver underwent the standard protocol to treat his type of cancer, which was 4 rounds of chemotherapy (starting 3/4/2011). Each round took 5 days with a 2 week break in-between. After 4 rounds, the tumor shrunk in size by half. In early June '11, Oliver had major surgery where the surgeon removed all he (safely) could but the pathology report confirmed residual cancerous cells. So surgery was followed by 2 more rounds of chemo in the hopes that would kill what was leftover. However, after two months off treatment, Oliver's AFP level (tumor marker) started to rise again and scans confirmed regrowth.
After much despair and sadness, we regrouped and started on "Plan B." Oliver's oncologist selected a new chemo cocktail this time (Taxol, Carboplatin, Ifosfamide). Oliver completed two rounds and the tumor showed a really good response. Then on December 12th, Oliver underwent another major surgery. This time we went to Sloan-Kettering in New York, placing Oliver in the hands of some of the best solid tumor surgeons in the world. The team had to remove the bottom three joints of his sacrum as well as some rectum in order to get the tumor out "en bloc." The surgery, which lasted 12 hours, was a big success with clean margins all around. Next Oliver underwent two more rounds of chemotherapy in January '12 to kill any lingering cancer cells. Now we are in the watch-and-wait phase where Oliver gets regular scans & blood tests and we pray for NED (no evidence of disease.)
Oliver has a world-wide army of family & friends that surround him with love (in person & in spirit). He is an amazingly strong and resilient little boy, and we are committed to doing WHATEVER it takes to help him triumph over this horrible disease.